Manchester City’s new central defender Eliaquim Mangala was always going to be under monumental pressure when City forked out £32m to secure his services from FC Porto in August.
But after a well documented slow start at the Etihad, Mangala is just starting to show signs that he is adapting to the English game and that he could eventually live up to his star billing. City made Mangala the Premier League’s most expensive defender when he made the switch to Manchester in August. Manuel Pellegrini went on record in the summer saying he wanted a defender to come in and partner his captain Vincent Kompany in central defence. The fee undoubtedly came as a surprise to most, considering he’s only been capped a handful of times by France, and he didn’t feature in any of his countries World Cup games.
Nonetheless, the champions went ahead with the astronomical deal anyway, and the 23-year-old made his belated first appearance in a City shirt – in the 1-1 home draw with Chelsea in late September. Despite Mangala having a very solid debut for the Citizens, things went down hill pretty drastically in City’s following Premier League game at Hull. Goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero put Pellegrini’s side 2-0 up after 11 minutes at the KC Stadium – only for Mangala to score an own-goal and then concede a soft penalty before halftime to allow Hull to draw level at the break. The defender’s blushes were spared though, as Edin Dzeko scored again and Frank Lampard added a fourth – for the champions to run out eventual 4-2 winners.
Mangala endured more heavy criticism following the 2-1 defeat to West Ham United and the 2-2 draw at QPR. He was then sent-off for two yellow cards in the 3-0 victory over Southampton – which all culminated in his career at the Etihad starting in pretty disastrous fashion. But a sign of a good player is to perform well under scrutiny, and to be fair to Mangala he has done exactly that since.
Despite being lucky not to see red with a high boot on Samuel Eto’o in City’s 1-0 win over Everton last week, Mangala showed his class in a near faultless and dominant display in the final Champions League group game against Roma on Wednesday. The Citizens, who only needed a draw to qualify for the knockout stages, won the game 2-0 – with Mangala putting in a stunning display next to Martin Demichelis in the heart of the City defence.
The City fans will be hoping they see more of the Mangala who performed so expertly well out in Italy – rather than the inconsistent one they have seen on occasions in the Premier League. There’s no doubt that the Frenchman has still got a lot more convincing and improving to do before he can become worthy of his astonishingly high price. Mangala is still in the process of getting used to the Premier League. Not only has he already seen red, he’s also picked up five yellow cards in his 13 league and cup appearances since joining the club.
But the signs are there that Maybe Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini could have well pulled off a worldie of a signing.